Beall Works Mental Health Parity and Mass Transit into New Budget

June 20, 2014

CAMPBELL – The $108 billion spending budget approved by the Governor today contains landmark funding for the enforcement of mental health parity regulations and a new guarantee that mass public transit projects, such as BART to San Jose, will now receive a 10 percent slice of Cap and Trade revenue – two major budget policies that were shaped by Senator Jim Beall.

“The new budget is a historic first step toward ensuring Californians will have greater access to mental health treatment and services,’’ Beall said. “With this budget, we can begin to finance crucial public transit and inter-city rail projects with Cap and Trade funds to get cars off the road.

“I think in the years to come, people will look back at this budget and realize it went a long way toward making California  healthier by strengthening mental health parity compliance and by supporting mass transit to reduce greenhouse gases.’’

The budget contains a modified version of Senator Beall’s mental health parity enforcement budget proposal. The action dedicates nearly $2.5 million dollars to the Department of Insurance and the Department of Managed Health Care to hire additional staff to enforce mental health parity laws. The additional staff would be paid by fees on insurance plans and have zero impact to the state general fund.

The new funding comes in the aftermath of Beall’s successful effort to include $369,000 in the May Revised Budget for the DMHC’s clinical consulting services to conduct initial front-end parity compliance reviews beginning with health plans filings in July. The plans will be required for the first time to provide evidence demonstrating they are conforming to federal and state parity laws. Prior to this, plans were largely left to self-certify their compliance of the federal parity law.

Beall also was able to ensure that 10 percent of the Cap and Trade revenue will now be devoted for mass transit and inter-city rail. The share of the revenue could grow to $300 million to $500 million annually in succeeding years.

“This policy change means Silicon Valley’s number one transportation project – bringing BART through downtown San Jose – is well positioned to get the necessary funding we need to make it come true,’’ Beall said.

Beall also pointed out that obtaining that funding will become simpler and more straightforward because it will be parceled out directly by the California Transportation Commission.
“As the largest shovel ready rail project in Northern California, I believe that the Phase II extension of BART meets the goal of AB 32 and is a prime candidate for Cap and Trade Program funding,” Beall said.

Beall’s advocacy was cited as playing a key role guaranteeing public transit would obtain a steady percentage of Cap and Trade funding.

“Sen. Jim Beall worked tirelessly on behalf of VTA’s extension of BART to Silicon Valley,’’ said Kurt Evans, Government Affairs Manager for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation   Authority.  “Through his efforts this project will compete well in the categories dedicated to transit improvement.’’